- Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is scheduled to host an India vs West Indies ODI in November, on the same turf where ISL team Kerala Blasters play their home matches.
- The lack of gap between the two events could lead to damaging of the pitch which has been regarded by FIFA as world class following the Under-17 World Cup last year.
- Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar has joined the campaign to urge Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) into changing the venue to Thiruvananthpuram’s Greenfield International Stadium.
- Players like CK Vineeth and Iain Hume are part of the campaign which has also got support from politician Shashi Tharoor.
A wave of social media pressure lead by Kerala Blasters striker CK Vineeth has put the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) under a massive dilemma. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi is scheduled to host an India vs West Indies ODI in November. However, since the JLN stadium is also used by the Kerala Blasters team in ISL for their home matches, there are fears that playing cricket on what is now termed as one of the few world-class pitches in India might damage the playing surface to a level which can’t be restored back. BCCI had awarded a single ODI match to KCA, and while many thought the board was going to use Thiruvananthapuram Greenfield International Stadium, there are indications that the KCA will go ahead with the JLN stadium for now.
CK Vineeth had started a social media campaign hoping to persuade the KCA to shift the match to Thiruvananthapuram. The campaign has picked up a lot of interest in the last week with Thiruvananthapuram Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor supporting it but now even India’s batting legend Sachin Tendulkar has come out in support of the campaign and has asked Vinod Rai, the chief of Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators, to review the decision.
The pitch at the JLN stadium was relayed for the cost of Rs 2.55 crore for the under-17 football World Cup last year and has since then been regarded as a truly world class turf by FIFA.
Tweeting with regard to growing concerns about the JLN pitch, Sachin Tendulkar wrote, “Worried about the potential damage to the FIFA approved World class Football turf in Kochi. Urge the KCA to take the right decision where cricket (Thiruvananthapuram) and Football (Kochi) can happily coexist.”
Worried about the potential damage to the FIFA approved World class Football turf in Kochi. Urge the KCA to take the right decision where cricket (Thiruvananthapuram) and Football (Kochi) can happily coexist. pic.twitter.com/rs5eZmhFDP
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) March 20, 2018
The ISL season 5 is expected to start around October, which means that there won’t be enough time for the authorities to re-lay the pitch and bring it to the standards of past one year. The social media debate surrounding this matter has garnered huge support from the Kerala Blasters Fan Club. They believe that the truf would take a huge beating if the centre squad was dug up in order to lay down a cricket pitch.
Speaking about Sachin Tendulkar’s tweet to change the venue of the India vs West Indies ODI Cricket, KCA vice-president Abdul Rahman believes that it is his personal opinion. As reported by Times Now, he said, “The stadium has hosted cricket and football matches in the past. We had a meeting earlier with Greater Cochin Development Authority and told them about our decision to hold the cricket match here. Both sports can be played together.”
ISL legend Iain Hume had also took to social media recently in support of the campaign to protect the Kerala turf. He wrote, “I understand there is a lot of cricket in India. But I also understand that there is a lot of football in Kerala.”
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So having read that there’s a possibility of a ODI Cricket Match planning to be played in JLN Stadium in Kochi, I have to say this…. I was here for the 1st season of @indiansuperleague when they had 6-8 weeks to transform our field from a Cricket ground to a Football ground. They made great strides in doing so, but it was still some way off being an established field for top level football. The amount of time and money that has been spent since then, to get the pitch to the standard it is now for the U-17 @fifaworldcup and @indiansuperleague 4, it would be a travesty to tear it up for a one off cricket match! I understand the love of cricket in not just Kerala, but all of India, and I don’t want to disrespect anyone for that. But there’s a ground in Trivandrum that is Cricket specific, so why for the sake of one match, rip up a pitch that has taken years to get to the standard as one of the best in the country? Question….. Would they tear up Eden Gardens to stage a one off football match? #SaveKochiTurf ⚽️🇮🇳🐘🌴💛
The BCCI will definitely be looking into the matter as the India vs West Indies ODI campaign picks up pace but the KCA isn’t appearing to be ready to budge at the moment. Indian players are currently preparing for the upcoming 11th season of the Indian Premier League which starts on 7th April with Mumbai Indians taking on Chennai Super Kings.
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